Anxiety

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It’s strange – a week ago, maybe even a few days ago… okay, possibly a few minutes ago – I was feeling a sense of anxiety and urgency around tomorrow. But the closer we get to Election Day and its results, that anxiety is tempered by a feeling of surrender and calm. Don’t get me wrong – that surrender is accompanied by encouraging everyone to go vote, and I did just that more than a week ago.

But the reality is, I’m not sure tomorrow is as defining as we make it out to be. That defining, in many ways, has already been happening. In the past year, a light has been cast on many of the fractures in our country. A country that is really quite remarkable in its vastness and diversity and accomplishments and its as-yet unrealized potential. I think that tomorrow night, regardless of the outcome of the election, there will be many people (still) feeling unhappy and dissatisfied and unheard.

Some of the sentiments expressed in recent months have scared me and made me quiver with anger and sob tears of frustration. Some were expressed or inspired by public figures, but a lot of those sentiments are those of regular people. People who may consider me too brown or too female or too child-of-immigrant or too committed-to-a-religion-other-than-Christianity to be a real American (whatever that means). Or maybe people who don’t think any of the above. But regular people – my fellow citizens (or not) Americans – nonetheless. Who at some point in recent months have also probably felt scared, quivered with anger and/or sobbed tears of frustration.

So, we’re on the eve of what we portray as a big choice between two people and the paths they represent. But what is each of us regular people – those who make up the majority of the fabric (a fabric I picture as a multi-hued and intricately patterned brocade) of the United States – doing to find common ground with people different from ourselves? What path are we trying to follow, or make? Who are we inviting to join us on that path? It’s not a question just for you, but for me. What am I doing to get outside of my particular set of bubbles to learn what others think and feel and what motivates them in those directions? How can we work together? I have a feeling some of what I would learn might surprise me. We humans are complex creatures.

Truth: I still have anxiety about tomorrow. But it’s more of an anxiety that on the surface we’ll treat tomorrow as an end to all of the feelings and contention that have bubbled up, around a lot of issues, while further entrenching ourselves in whatever views we hold today. Instead of seeing tomorrow as not only an opportunity to voice our opinions and to abide by the majority of those voices, but also a reminder to listen to one another and work together to build and improve upon the community we want to have.

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